And you can smell
sweat in your hair and wet earth on the wind. — Julia Kasdorf

'20:365 - Red Leaves' photo (c) 2010, Siddhartha Lammata - license: of the toughest things about a daily writing practice, I think, is getting started. I could do so many other things that are so much easier – read email, check out Facebook’s incessant changes, tweet, clean my office – and to sit down and pull words from the ether, well, that just seems so daunting. So I’ve had to give myself a practice that works for me.

Each day, when I get ready to write, I pull out a book of poetry and read one poem. In that one poem, I pick one line of poetry and underline it. Then, I write out that one line in my journal and use it as the start of my writing practice for the day. Sometimes I use the language from the line to get started; sometimes I take the idea and write about it; and sometimes I write about something totally unrelated. But the simple practice of putting down a line of poetry sort of kickstarts my brain and gets the words flowing.

Here’s what I came up with after writing down the line of Kasdorf’s poetry that’s quoted above.

In this opposite time of year, I search the air for hints of woodsmoke and the mustiness of fallen leaves. I long to tuck my feet in socks that I haven’t seen for months and tug a sweater closed across my chest. I scan the sky to see gold drop from the air on beams, and every reddening leaf spins in my heart.

I don’t know that I will ever do anything with those lines (beyond include them in a blog post), but they got me started. I found a taste of the joy that is writing in those words, and I’m ready, now, to move onto my real project. It feels good – like the taste of autumn on my tongue.

What practices do you use to get started? What might you like to try that you haven’t attempted before?